5 things we learned this week …. about green energy myths

A couple of months ago when I was chatting about my plans for RenewEconomy with a senior journalist friend, he considered the name and turned to me and asked: “You’re pro-renewables, aren’t you?”

By Giles Parkinson on 15 June 2012.
For complete article: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/5-things-we-learned-this-week-about-green-energy-myths

It wasn’t the detail of the question that startled me so much as the tone, as though he was seeking my views on gay marriage, or euthanasia.

And I wondered how it was that renewable energy had become a morally contestable issue.
The answer, of course, has much to do with the actions of vested interests, who have sought to delay the deployment of renewables – initially through challenging the climate change science, then on demonizing renewables as costly and useless, and then by fighting incentives, and finally through regulation.
They have been able to get away with this because there is a dearth of information. The public who don’t know whether to believe the advocates or the nay-sayers have been ill-served by the mainstream media, and supposedly independent statutory bodies such as the Productivity Commission and the state-based pricing regulators, who have either displayed ignorance, a lack of curiosity, or a blind hatred of green technologies. And given useless advice to the government, as was enshrined in the draft energy white paper.
We got a succinct update to this in this week’s IPART ruling on retail electricity prices, and the media response to it. IPART and the media chose to focus on the cost of green energy incentives, even though it was clear that the single greatest contribution was the costs associated with more poles and wires and keeping track of the surging demand for air conditioners. Both IPART and the PC have been stubbonly short term in their estimation of green energy costs and incentives, and their value, even when most of the literature, and current and past experience with other technologies and other sectors, suggests the long term view is more useful and more valid.
Even so, a series of reports in recent weeks from a range of authoritative sources have served to dispel some of the more egregious myths about green energy. You won’t get to read much of any of the reports in most of the mainstream media, so here’s a recap and summary.
Myth No 1: That renewables cannot deliver on the task at hand.
Myth No 2: That renewables are intermittent and cannot be absorbed by the grid.
Myth No 3: That renewables are too expensive.
Myth No 4: That renewables are not popular
Myth No 5 : That renewables do not contribute to the local economy.
A separate report released today by Sinclair Knight Merz, on behalf of the Clean Energy Council, found that for every 50MW of capacity, a wind farm creates direct employment of up to 48 construction jobs, who spend up to $1.2 million in the local area, direct employment of 5 permanent staff, indirect employment during the construction phase of approximately 160 people locally, 504 state jobs and 795 nation-wide jobs, and provides up to $250,000 for farmers in land rental income and $80,000 on community projects each year. The CEC says more than $4 billion has so far been invested in wind power in Australia, with another $17.8 billion in currently proposed and approved wind farm projects

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